Danielle Ofri, a New York general internist and noted physician-author, recently told Time.com how she had been tempted to quit medicine. She described a new patient with multiple medical problems taking 18 different medications, who arrived with two forms that she needed her doctor to fill out, plus numerous photocopies of records from previous physicians.
The patient spoke only Bengali, so Ofri had to use the hospital’s telephone translator service. Fearful that she’d get behind on her required charting, she tried to document as she went along on the computerized record on her desktop— until the computer started malfunctioning. At 45 minutes into the 15-minute-scheduled visit, she had computer tech support in a phone at one ear and the interpreter talking into the other, with six more patients waiting to be seen.
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Brody is director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston